On Monday 25th March, a group of students from North Liverpool Academy, all Cambridge Undergraduate Offer holders, visited Putney, London and The Boat Race. The group accompanied by PE Teacher Joe Peacock immersed themselves in the rich traditions and vibrant student life associated with Oxford and Cambridge Universities and The Boat Race.

Hosted by The Boat Race, the day was packed with activities designed to give the students an opportunity to find out more about the historic event and what it is like to be a student athlete at Oxford and Cambridge. The day started with a historical overview, delivered by 1987 Oxford President Donald McDonald, the students were given an opportunity to hear first-hand all about the 1987 infamous Oxford mutiny. Donald also shared his experiences of attending Oxford as a mature student, discussing how he balanced a demanding academic schedule with rowing, and explored how he made the most of the academic opportunities.

From here the students then proceeded to a practical coaching session in the rowing tank at Thames Rowing Club. This indoor facility gave the Liverpool students an opportunity to learn a few basic rowing skills, instruction was delivered by Cambridge rower Emily. The North Liverpool Academy students were all able to sit side by side in the rowing simulator as they learned to manage to handle sweep rowing. After the physical demands of the session, it was back to the classroom for an insightful discussion on balancing academic and sporting commitments, touching on many of the practicalities of student life.

After lunch the students were able to meet with members of The Boat Race delivery team to learn more about sports event management and sponsorship.The Boat Race is a major public event and the Liverpool students were an overview of the logistics to organising a major public event in London. Patricia Smith, a former Blue for Cambridge took the group for a walk along The Championship Course, starting in Putney where they walked from the Start of The Boat Race to the Milepost. Patricia talked through the early stages of the race.

Danie, one of the students, reflected on the day, “I found the day really informative and exciting. My favourite activities included the tank rowing simulator and speaking to the students about their experiences.”

Another student, John, said, “Speaking to Donald and his story of resilience was really inspiring and I look forward to watching the boat race for the first time on the weekend.

Siobhan Cassidy, Chair of BRCL said, “It was a pleasure to host these young people introduce them to university life, The Boat Race and hopefully inspire some of them to pick up an oar when they begin their studies in October. “